Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 39, July - August 1999
House Votes to Withhold US IAEA Funds for IranOn 19 July, the US House of Representatives passed, by 383 votes to 1, a measure which would prevent the US contributing funds to any International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) projects in Iran unless the Secretary of State certifies to Congress that Iran is not seeking to acquire a nuclear-weapons capability - a claim which the Clinton Administration regularly makes. Iran is currently seeking to expand its nuclear reactor complex at Bushehr, a $800 million project in which Russia is the principal participant but to which the IAEA has thus far contributed $1.6 million. The rationale for the House measure was put forward by its chief sponsor, Robert Menendez (Democrat - New Jersey):
"Clearly, when we suspect that Iran has the requisite technology to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level, it is not a wise idea to help them in their efforts to locate more of it... [W]e must question Iran's motives for developing nuclear power."
A similar measure may be considered by the Senate later this year. In 1998, equivalent House legislation was not introduced in the Senate.
Editor's note: visiting Moscow on 2 August, the new Israeli Prime Minister, Labour Party leader Ehud Barak, urged upon Russia utmost stringency and vigilance in denying Iran nuclear-weapons related equipment or assistance: "I told the Russian President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel's deep concern about the leakage of nuclear rocket technology to Iran and lack of control of such technology to Iran..." Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin sought to reassure his counterpart: "If there is suspicion, or even better a fact, that Russia is providing technology that could help in the creation of nuclear arms, we are ready to look into it... I want to emphasize again the position of the Russian President and Government: we are not interested in any country, including Iran, obtaining nuclear weapons."
Reports: House reduces IAEA money for Iran, Associated Press, 19 July; Barak concerned on Russian arms leak to Iran, Reuters, 2 August.
© 1999 The Acronym Institute.